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You’d Think a Carrier Group Would Be Consideration Enough…

So, the United States may have shown China some deference by changing the location of an upcoming Korea—US naval drill from the West Sea to the East Sea, but some point out that Washington has shown “shown no consideration at all” to Korea by calling the location of the upcoming drill the “Sea of Japan.”

Quick, get the smelling salts!

MBC reports that Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell called the body of water between Korea and Japan “the Sea of Japan” in announcing the drill.

A Foreign Ministry official explained that due to the difference in opinion on the matter between Washington and Seoul, the United States could use the term until an agreement on the name is reached, but MBC says there is also criticism that for the US government to call the East Sea the Sea of Japan in announcing an allied Korea—US drill diplomatically disrespected Korea.

Cueing Doug Bandow!

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • Wedge

    I suppose we could always tell them that if they don’t like the name “Sea of Japan” that they can defend the body of water themsleves and call it what they like. The 7th Fleet has plenty of other places to go.

    And since when did China dictate where our carriers can go? Not a good precedent.

  • Sonagi

    A Foreign Ministry official explained that due to the difference in opinion on the matter between Washington and Seoul, the United States could use the term until an agreement on the name is reached,

    Of course they can. Last time I checked, the South Korean Foreign Ministry did not have editorial control over Pentagon communications.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    And since when did China dictate where our carriers can go?

    Since they’ve become your loan shark of choice

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    And since when did China dictate where our carriers can go?

    To be fair, if you have a cursory glance at a world map, you’ll see that China is probably very much within it’s rights to object to a US battle group cruising the West Sea. I wonder how the Pentagon would react if China sent a fleet to the Gulf of Mexico for a round of war-games with Cuba?

    Not that I particularly trust the Chinese, but I think the days have passed when the US can completely dictate terms.

    Anyway, you might also want to read this article.

  • gangpehmoderniste

    Anyway, you might also want to read this article

    Good article, i found this paragraph particularly interesting:

    China is doing it because it can, according to a retired general, Xu Guangyu. “China’s long absence from its exclusive economic waters over the past decades was an abnormal historical accident and now it is just advancing to normal operations,” he told the South China Morning Post. “We kept silent about territory disputes with our neighbours in the past because our navy was incapable of defending our economic zones, but now the navy is able to carry out its task.”

    So this is my question for all of you Army geeks, how strong Chinese Navy really is ?

  • Pvrhye

    HOW DARE THEY CALL THE SOUTH GULF THE GULF OF MEXICO!

    Seriously though, if there wasn’t a Japan there, it wouldn’t be a sea at all… it’d be the ocean. They really need to learn to choose thier fights.

  • milton

    And since when did China dictate where our carriers can go? Not a good precedent.

    Nope, not at all. This is a sign that the US is losing hegemony in East Asia and at the same time we are tacitly agreeing that China is the dominate power in the region. Not good at all. I’m waxing nostalgic for Bill Clinton’s ’96 exploits when he sent not one, but two carriers to the Straits of Taiwan.

    But what can you do when they own 900 billion dollars worth of American treasuries? It’s like they have our balls in cup.

  • Wedge

    The U.S.’s position has always been that it can go anywhere in international waters, which is more than 12 nm off the coast of any country. If the PLA Navy wanted to fart around Cuba we’d be happy to oblige. According to Michael Moore they’ve got a great health system there, so why not make a port call?

  • Craash

    The Ocean underneath India that goes all the way down to Antartica and is the sea on the West of Australia and East of Africa is called the Indian Ocean.

    Do Koreans see Australians demanding that it be called the “West Ocean?”

    or South Africans demanding that it be called the “East Ocean”?

    Koreans helped Japan during WWII, and it was the Allied forced who kicked Japan out of Korea.

    So, if the Allied countries are happy to call it the Sea of Japan, then Koreans should just be thankful they got their country back and stop crying about everything. It just makes them look like a country of whining Kvetches.

  • cm

    China’s government’s press conference

    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/07/16/2010071601455.html?Dep1=news&Dep2=top&Dep3=top

    China says they’re not the old China of 100 years ago. China also says they’ll not forgive any kind of military showmanship in their area (I guess Korea is considered their area?) from their enemy, the US. Otherwise, China threatens anti-Americanism in China to be at its peak.

    They’re getting serious. It looks now South Korea will have to ask for permission from China to hold military drills in Korea, from now on. Poor Lee Myung Bak, how does he continue to get into these kinds of pickles that he must once again wiggle out of? It’s been a long 2.5 years.

  • cm

    What does the US do? I can see Doug Bandow’s point. Why piss off China over Korean matters, let’s get out of Korea, and out of Asia.

    But be warned, the day the US is out of Korea, Korea’s foriegn policies will reflect a new reality in the new global Asian security, the decline of America, and China’s rise. Korea may not have much choice but to support China, to protect Korea’s interests, as Korea is not strong enough to stand up to China.

  • milton

    But be warned, the day the US is out of Korea, Korea’s foriegn policies will reflect a new reality in the new global Asian security, the decline of America, and China’s rise.

    This has already happened, as evidenced by America’s craven relocation of the upcoming military drills and its complete capitulation to the forces of tyranny in the UN.

    But the US doesn’t have a choice. If we cross China too mcuh, China will start dumping our T-bills, which means the fledgling American recovery will stop dead, which means Obama won’t get re-elected to a second term, The dirty little secret of democracy is that democratically-elected politicians tend not to do the right thing if it means sacrificing his re-election bid, especially if the “right thing” won’t bear fruit until much later in the future.

    Of course, by dumping American T-bills, China will be shooting itself in the foot, but if the peasants decide to bum rush Zhongnanhai, the CCP can just bring the full-force of the PLA to bear against the people, so not much threat there.

  • milton

    the US doesn’t have a choice.

    I mean that in an everyday sense. Of course there is a choice, but …

  • milton

    For what it’s worth (and it ain’t worth crap) here’s China’s take on the upcoming military drills, straight from the horse’s mouth:

    http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90780/91342/7069743.html

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    Do Koreans see Australians demanding that it be called the “West Ocean?”

    …or South Africans demanding that it be called the “East Ocean”?

    Australia and South Africa don’t have the same history as Korea and Japan do. (though I concede that the whole East Sea / Sea of Japan thing is silly.)

    Koreans helped Japan during WWII…

    That’s unfair.

  • cm

    #14, the exercise will take place in the “East Sea”/”Sea of Japan”, away from China’s borders. Yet China is still against it. What’s their objection against that?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    We borrow from the Chinese to buy crappy @$% built in their state-owned factories by workers who often live in caves with dfirt floors.

    Every US-based CEO who moved his manufacturing there ought to be strung up on the nearest tree.

    And we ought to learn from this that the cheapest ain’t the cheapest. We save a couple bucks and our neighbors get laid off.

  • cm

    Just in, just this Chinese editorial from Asiaweek. Don’t give up, keep reading. The second page has all the goodies.

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/LG16Ad02.html

    Milton, you’re wrong. China will not sell their US-T bills. They have other ways to get back for revenge. They’re threatening Chinese government backed massed internet netizen rioting against the Americans and South Koreans. Unfortunately, the biggest victim will be the South Koreans, already a target of intense hatred from China’s internet masses. If this exercise goes through, the level of hatred very well maybe out of internet and into the real life, as we saw in 2005 when Chinese citizens went on a nation wide violent riot against the Japanese. with many Japanese owned businesses burned to the ground and Japanese people attacked on the streets and stores.

    I agree partially with the editorial, South Korea is the more vulnerable – they’re too dependent on China’s economy to withstand Chinese pressure.

  • R. Elgin

    There is a steady and slow push by the PRC to push the U.S. out of what they are attempting to redefine as their sphere of influence, namely East Asian waters. This is why they are building their navy up and planning on a carrier. The PRC already has at least sixty submarines and has plans to grow in ways that would counter the American Navy.

    Though I am not an advocate of American influence in this region, I certainly do not trust the PRC either.

  • R. Elgin

    As per another source and as an answer to China’s complaint about having a carrier in the West sea:

    “Three of the largest submarines of the US Seventh Fleet surfaced in Asia-Pacific ports last week, the South China Morning Post reported Monday [July 5]. The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia was a show of force not seen since the end of the Cold War, the paper said, adding that the position of those three ports looks like a siege of China.” [1]

    Somehow, I am not worried about China being under siege; that is an exaggeration.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    RE, while it’s true that the Chinese press is as woefully short of integrity as that of the west, the Chinese, being only about 2 Billion in number have much to fear from those thousands of US sailors…

    To quote from a famous Bruce Lee movie, “Chinese Kung Fu… No good.” (and Bruce has passed away, leaving them defenseless unless Jet Li makes another Once Upon A Time In China movie).

    /snark

  • wookinponub

    “But what can you do when they own 900 billion dollars worth of American treasuries? It’s like they have our balls in cup.”

    Could we (they…big money/gov’t.) just say fack ewe and tell China to go hellswhere? Are the megawealthy really concerned about our pissant dealings?

    Follow the money.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Agreeing with both gangpeh and milton, there is a lot that we’d have to listen to if China was to say something given how much money we owe them. Sad but true.

    On the other hand, owning a lot of U.S. treasury bills doesn’t give as much leverage as one may think. You are less likely to cause the apple cart to spill if you have a vested interest in how well that apple cart does.

  • DLBarch

    I think some of ya’ll are reading last week’s newspapers…the Pentagon has already confirmed that joint naval exercises will be held in BOTH the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan, and this is being seen by real foreign policy pros as a specific message to China.

    I don’t see any “capitulation” by the U.S. to China here at all. If anything, it’s a sign that the U.S. Administration is flexing its muscles and reminding Beijing that like it or not, the U.S. is sticking by its Korean ally and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

    As for the Sea of Japan/East Sea nonsense coming out of MOFAT, all I can say is that one of the frustrations of being a “friend” of Korea is to sometimes have to remind it so cut the ssagaji crap and keep the eye on the ball.

    DLB

  • http://stfu.cc Korean Psycho

    @cm,

    your comment on “Korea is not strong enough to stand to China”, would more likely be the question of future Korean policy makers, most would agree that China is on back of everyone’s mind. When you mix paranoia into politics, the country’s foreign policy becomes different from the one which you perceive today. There’s unpredictability in the nuclear card strategy. US pulling out will immediately warrant a solidarity towards an independent South Korean military force. Because manpower is limited, South Korea will have no choice but to develop nuclear weapons with China bitching about it or not. One thing for sure, a paranoid country with fiercely survivalist mentality can accomplish anything. Look at Israel. Eventually, the introduction of South Korea’s nuclear arsenal’s is inevitable, especially after realizing the limitations of America’s security umbrella.

    China is trying to impose it’s traditional role as the head state of Asia Pacific, rightly so as they are in the best shape as they ever can be. To US, it will inevitably lose support in this region as time goes on….to be honest, there’s not much natural resources to be dug up in Korea, Japan and other Asian nations. America is growingly becoming more isolated.

    I see the Chinese threat as a good diplomatic opportunity for Korea and Japan. The two arch rivals will have to work together, as they watch America loses it’s grip on Asia Pacific. The cliche proverb “The enemy of my enemy is also my friend” seems appropriate for both Japan and Korea’s point of view. For example, both countries can significantly leverage each others area of specialization. It will also be in the interest of Japan to see Korea as a geopolitical buffer. Korea can benefit with added Japanese support. Although, this paragraph might come across as chin il pa, I assure you that the current attitudes Chinese foreign policy is displaying is unnerving. To back a psycho like Kim Jong Il all these years, and now planning to threaten Korean sovereignty. It’s a tough position for South Korea, and reminiscent of preceding Republic’s practice of resourcefulness and vigilance particularly under president Park.

    The Americans clearly have much less benefit by risking their soldiers in such region, where the rewards are not as significant as other part’s of the world where oil is plenty.

    I think Koreans and Japanese are disappointed in the lack of American strength exhibited after the Cheonan incident.

    America has no obligation or owe anything, the result of their current deployment in Asia Pacific is due to WW2. It has come a long way since the cold war, and with China saber rattling, it’s also a logical time for America to review it’s Asian assets.

    Would US & China risk making a move against each other which the result of the conflict regardless of a victor would significantly threaten their current positions as world’s #1 and #2 ? Never. It’s economically preferable to avoid going to war with your biggest enemy, who happens to also own all of your debt, who will also lose if they can’t get the money back !

    Limitations should be embraced with bitter taste of reality, and from within the boundary, a solution is formed.

  • http://stfu.cc Korean Psycho

    Also @ CM,

    I would say South Korea actually has more leverage than China, given the nuclear option. Would China continue to threaten Korea with all these subtle military and diplomatic actions at the risk of introducing South Korean nukes ? North Korea is handful already and nuclear weapon proliferation to South Korea and Japan is not something China can threaten with “debt” argument. Perhaps Taiwan even going nuclear ? The nuclear weapon race across Asia hinges on South Korea. The chain reactions would be inevitable.

    The real reason China doesn’t want US in it’s western waters is because they don’t want their soldier’s to realize how relatively inferior their military assets will be once they witness American + ROK military excercise. US not wanting more conflict on something they don’t really care about (Cheonan) because it’s not American responsibility, and deciding to do it anyway in the “Sea of Japan”, a subtle message to all Asia Pacific countries: 1) To China: Don’t tell us what to do but don’t forget we are partners 2) To North Korea: US Navy says hi. 3) To South Korea: Why do we have to clean up your shit every time ? 4) To Japan: We are staying. For good.

  • cm

    @Korean Psycho, it’s not the Chinese military threat that threatens Korea. It’s the economic stranglehold on Korea that China holds, that will dictate what’s going to happen.

  • WeikuBoy

    Speaking of the Sea of Japan:

    Qatar Airways, in its otherwise fine series of TV ads in coordination with world weather on CNN, BBC, etc. (you know: “This morning over Ho Chi Minh City, we’re expecting a torrent of Earl Grey tea”), has a new such ad mentioning the Sea of Japan. I continue to be amazed how multinational companies fail to run these things past their local representatives around the world, in order to catch such potentially offensive language.

  • RollingWave

    So this is my question for all of you Army geeks, how strong Chinese Navy really is ?

    Not very, at least relative to the US.

    It has a pretty large arsenal of subs, some are very old but some are fairly capable as well, it certainly has enough capacity to at least give the US navy some pause, espeically on the prospect of staying around the Chinese coastal areas for too long, but not nearly enough to really go toe to toe.

    It’s surface fleet is fairly small at the moment, though they are upgrading it rapidly.

    From the information I gathered while serving in Taiwan’s navy (I was a radarman so I got to see little more info than most, but most isnt’ exactly top secret stuff). the Chinese surface tech is still several generation backs in terms of elctronics warfare and combat systems. that doesn’t neccesarily mean it’ll take several generations for them to catch up though.

    In my perspective, China’s obviously nowhere close to being able to challenge the US in the open sea, but it seems quite possible that they could sufficiently deterr the US from say…. hovering the 7th fleet around their coastlines at will (which is kinda what’s happening in Iran.) their subs combined with their very large arensals of ballistics missile is a pretty serious threat to any navy that wonder too close.

  • RollingWave

    #21

    RE, while it’s true that the Chinese press is as woefully short of integrity as that of the west,

    ehh, while the western media isn’t a automatic mouth peace like the Chinese’s , I have a hard time calling them as media with “integrity” as well :P

    #8

    The U.S.’s position has always been that it can go anywhere in international waters, which is more than 12 nm off the coast of any country. If the PLA Navy wanted to fart around Cuba we’d be happy to oblige. According to Michael Moore they’ve got a great health system there, so why not make a port call?

    really… I seem to recall a particularly incident involving Cuba and a foreign fleet in 1962 … hmmmmmmm.

    Also, I would bet house money that if China really do play war games 12 miles off US shores, even if the White house doesn’t complain (which is already highly unlikely) , they media and opposition will certainly be licking their chops on that situation

  • Acropolis7

    I am sorry to break this to you, but U.S. influence is not going to gradually or rapidlly weaken, save an unforseen global disaster were to happen in the next 100 years.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I am sorry to break this to you, but U.S. influence is not going to gradually or rapidlly weaken, save an unforseen global disaster were to happen in the next 100 years.

    Bruce Cumings (of all people) would agree. See the introduction to his new book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dominion-Sea-Pacific-Ascendancy-American/dp/0300111886/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279422648&sr=8-1

  • Granfalloon

    While I believe American influence is not going to disappear anytime soon, I di think the US will have to cede influence in this region China. Not ALL influence, mind you, but it’s not easy to hold court in a region on the other side of the world. This is China’s doorstep: they want a say in what goes on, and they’re going to get it.

    Of course, if I were in charge on the US side, I might politely remind China that the only reason this exercises are being held at all is because they’ve utterly failed to exert proper influence over their only ally in the region. Get your own house n order.

  • palladin9479

    Its the current ~clik~ thing to down talk US as the current world super power. It makes people seem more world savvy even when they really have no idea how these things play out.

    But first I’m gonna stop this nonsense about China holding US debt and blah blah. China is the largest ~single~ holder of US backed treasuries but their share is small when compared to the total amount. PRC owns 23.4% about 877bn USD. Next up is Japan at 20.5% at 768.5bn, then its the UK at 6.2% at 233.5bn. Those are the foreign owners of US debt. But here is the big bomb shell, only 65.8% of US debt is owned by a foreign country with most of the remaining being owned by good ole grandma and grandpa in the form of US bonds. Yes people still buy those.

    Also T bills are not sold to individual countries in one on one deals, their sold at auctions open to anyone attending. Their also structured so that interest is payable on them yearly, they don’t compound interest to the principle. For foreign countries with particularly large amounts of cash on hand, a US T.Bill is a solid way to guarantee future federal revenue for that nation. “Selling off” of those bonds happen either by the original owners buying them back, or by a third party buying them from the original buyer. Other countries would snatch those from PRC in a heartbeat if they could. The interest / debt is payable in USD, theoretically the US could literally just print off more money and *poof* debt is history. That would devalue the USD by creating too much of it in circulation, Chinese made things in the USA would get more expensive vs US made things. Also the Chinese government does all of its business in USD vs their native currency. They then control the supply / exchange rate of their local currency to prevent the population from getting too rich, as long as they do this their social programs are relatively cheap. But this tactic won’t work much longer as their middle class has developed and inflation is already kicking China’s a$$ locally. China’s economy is about to be in a world of hurt as their real-estate market is in a bubble due to over-demand. China’s economy is just as fragile as everyone else’s. They do a really good job of hiding it but its all the same. They need the USA / world nations just as much as we need them, its a stalemate that can only be broken by China going democratic / free market, which they refuse to do.

    Second is how the great game is played. In the world every nation is out for itself and its own citizens as #1, then all its friends / allies as #2. Prior to WWII the US had a very isolationist policy, it was leaned towards ignoring most of the world and letting Europe handle itself. This policy resulted in two World Wars because the damn Europeans can’t handle themselves worth a damn. When the cold war started post-WWII it was obvious that ignoring everyone just got you surrounded by enemies and that to protect yourself you must establish sphere’s of influence and power projection capabilities. A military is nothing more then a tool for power projection. If you have a military force somewhere you can project power into that region. This allows you to form and define what options other rival nations have. The USA desires peace and to maintain the status-quo world wide. China and Russia both desire to increase / expand their influence / power base in the world, this is in direct conflict with the USA’s foreign policy. The European countries are too weak and / or too self involved to have any bearing on the world, its sad buy ultimately true. They would rather sit by and watch another nation go aggressor then actually do anything about it.

    The USA has a military presence in SK / Japan to deny China / Russia control of the region. For this same reason the USA has base’s in Germany to deny China / Russia the ability to expand their political influence west. In effect this is limiting the expansion capabilities of both those nations, and they don’t like it. No amount of speeches / posturing or chest thumping will get you world geo-political power. It always boils down to military presence, always has and always will. You can not beat a nation until you beat its military, and currently no nation in the world can beat the US military machine. There is no decline in US world power, and you don’t want there to be one.

  • milton

    That’s a nice, but trite, explanation of how T-Bills work. Thanks. Rather than explain things myself, I’m going to refer you to the Congressional Research Service, writing on why a sudden sell-off of T-Bills could be catastrophic:

    A potentially serious short-term problem would emerge if China decided to suddenly reduce their liquid U.S. financial assets significantly. The effect could be compounded if this action triggered a more general financial reaction (or panic), in which all foreigners responded by reducing their holdings of U.S. assets. The initial
    effect could be a sudden and large depreciation in the value of the dollar, as the supply of dollars on the foreign exchange market increased, and a sudden and large increase in U.S. interest rates, as an important funding source for investment and the budget deficit was withdrawn from the financial markets. The dollar depreciation would not cause a recession since it would ultimately lead to a trade surplus (or smaller deficit), which expands aggregate demand.28 (Empirical evidence suggests that the full effects of a change in the exchange rate on traded goods takes time, so
    the dollar may have to “overshoot” its eventual depreciation level in order to achieve a significant adjustment in trade flows in the short run.)29 However, a sudden increase in interest rates could swamp the trade effects and cause a recession. Large increases in interest rates could cause problems for the U.S. economy, as these increases reduce the market value of debt securities, cause prices on the stock market to fall, undermine efficient financial intermediation, and jeopardize the solvency of
    various debtors and creditors. Resources may not be able to shift quickly enough from interest-sensitive sectors to export sectors to make this transition fluid. The Federal Reserve could mitigate the interest rate spike by reducing short-term interest rates, although this reduction would influence long-term rates only indirectly, and could worsen the dollar depreciation and increase inflation.

    See here: http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/99496.pdf

    So, I’m not sure where you get off making unsupported assumtions such as “would snatch those [those] from PRC in a heartbeat if they could.” Maybe in the long run, but not if the market is flooded with cheap paper.

    Would China do this? I don’t know. As you rightfully point out, it would not be in China’s interest to do so. But then again, as I pointed out above, Chinese politicians are not constrained by democratic forces like American politicians are. They can think long-term whereas democratically-elected politicians think short term. A democratically-elected politician would get booted out of office in the event of an economic war with China (since research in political science strongly suggests economic conditions are correlated with an incumbent’s prospects of electoral victory), and would make him more likely to avoid taking any action that might lead to economic meltdown during his tenure. A Chinese politician, on the other hand, can use the military to ensure that he remains in office. This gives China the edge. And this gives China power. Power is the ability to make someone do something they wouldn’t otherwise do. This is China exercising softpower on the US, a type of softpower that the US is unable to reciprocate.

    Moving on now to your oversimplified spiel about geopolitics. First, you’re conflating geopolitical strength with military strength. Military power is a necessary but not sufficient condition for geopolitical strength. Geopolitical strength, as the name suggests, is all about geography first and foremost: which countries you can count on as allies, which countries are in your sphere of influence, the overall equilibrium of the international system, control and/or influence over geographic features that are of military or economic significance and so. There are various definitions of what exactly geopolitics is. I’m assuming you’re talking about the interaction of various international political actors in a certain geographic space. Geopolitics can be conducted through softpower, through behind-the-scenes negotiations, through undercover operations, through building influence and changing perceptions, and yes, through military means.

    If you think there has been no decline in US Geopolitical power, you either don’t read enough or you’re willfully ignorant. After making inroads in the territory of the former Soviet Union, American power went into decline in this extraordinarily geopolitically-important region for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the ’08 Georgian-Russian war (when the United States proved itself powerless to stop Russian aggression against a close US ally). See the ongoing Nabucco pipeline fiasco in which the United States, despite throwing its weight behind a pipeline project designed to liberate Western Europe from vise of Russian energy monopolies, has proven itself powerless to create alternative routes of energy to Western Europe. Even the nations that stand to lose the most are lining up behind Russia. Southeast Asia is another area where the United States has lost considerable ground to China due to neglect and our fears about getting involved in the region. But China is bent on making SEA the crown jewel in its String of Pearls which runs from the Yellow Sea to the Persian Gulf. The United States has lost considerable influence and power in this region.

    So while I don’t want there to be decline in US world power, thanks to lack of strategic vision from our leadership, we are in decline. It’s reversible, but the United States is no longer considered leading, and in the last 65 years, whenever the United States has not been seen as leading, global instability has increased. If this weren’t the case, then tell me, how did the US manage to get so badly humiliated in the UN two weeks ago? Why can’t we put the kybosh down on Iran? Why are we coming across as weak in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Why are Pakistan and China going ahead with nuclear cooperation despite US objections? Why is Russia continuing arms sales to Venezuela and Iran despite US objections? Why do states openly defy the US? This should not be the case, but it is, and the reason is simple: US power is in decline.

  • milton

    Military power is a necessary but not sufficient condition for geopolitical strength.

    Just to provide an example, both Singapore and Malaysia are countries with strong geopolitical power since they are located abeam the vital Straits of Malacca and could theoretically shut off the tap for East Asian oil. Yet, neither state has a powerful military.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    both Singapore and Malaysia are countries with strong geopolitical power since they are located abeam the vital Straits of Malacca and could theoretically shut off the tap for East Asian oil. Yet, neither state has a powerful military.

    How exactly could they do that, if anyone with a powerful military disagreed?

  • milton

    How exactly could they do that, if anyone with a powerful military disagreed?

    Alliances, Security guarantees from regional and global powers, Mutual defense treaties, collective defense, regional security organizations are all ways that countries with small militaries can maintain their territorial integrity in the face of powerful militaries.

  • seouldout

    UNCLOS states the SOM – any strait used for internation navigation actually – is open to all “innocent passage” and “transit passage”. As long as they don’t dilly dally in a strait, vessels are accorded the right to unimpeded passage. And the 3rd littoral state in the SOM mix is Indonesia. All three littoral states have ratified UNCLOS. BTW, Singapore ain’t no slouch; for a state its size it packs a formidable air and naval punch. Certainly it couldn’t face off against the US, but a brown-/green-water Chinese navy would have some problems.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Yes, of course, but it’s hard to believe that any counterparty would honor such in the event that such small “powers” tried to interdict the flow of oil (or even countenance such that permitted it) or that any larger power would permit the conclusion of such an agreement between such a smaller power and a more formidable patron or patrons. Bottom line, though, is that without a credible military alliance or coalition the supposed geopolitical advantage of which you speak is an illusion.

  • milton

    Sperwer, you’re right. That was a really stupid example on my part, and had nothing to do with what I was arguing about. The premise I was trying to support was:

    Military power is a necessary but not sufficient condition for geopolitical strength.

    In other words, if you’re a geopolitically strong, you will have a strong military, but having a strong military does not guarantee geopolitical strength. I think this is all the more true in the age of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare where it seems that military strength alone is not enough to solve the conflict. I was arguing against #35’s point that by virtue of the fact that the United States has the most powerful military in the world, it’s geopolitical strength cannot decline.

    I think an example of this could be Israel, a state which has one of the most powerful, best-equipped, and best-trained armies on Earth. But I wouldn’t argue that Israel is a major world player because of it. Instead, Israel’s army is defensive.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘Instead, Israel’s army is defensive.’

    yes, against those w/o arms.

  • palladin9479

    @38

    My point exactly. No matter how you put it, twist it, or try to side-talk the issue, at the end of the day its military power that secures a nation and allows it to exert power over other nations. This has been proven time and time again throughout history, its one of those universal maxims, not unlike taxes and death.

    Prime example of the above is Taiwan. After the boxer revolution the former government of China fled to Taiwan and established it as the seat of government for the defunct China. The pro-communist new Chinese government was too busy cementing its power to both with trying to root out the remnants of the previous regime. In steps the USA to declare it’ll defend Taiwan (still a province of China) if it comes under aggressive attack. Years later Taiwan is an impressive economic power house, especially in the semi-conductor industry. China seriously wants to reabsorb Taiwan, Taiwan refuse’s to give up its sovereignty and purchase’s weapons / military capability from the USA. Its the USA’s defense promise that prevents China form annexing their “lost brethren”, not some misguided Chinese morality. Should the US dissolve their defense promise of Taiwan China would immediately seek to absorb them through whatever means necessarily.

    The Russia – Georgian is another perfect example of how this all works out. The above poster was extremely ignorant of how the whole thing went down, as established in their comments referencing a US “failure”. Russia fuels / supports a rebellious faction within Georgia, a democratic country. That faction decides to rebel and separate themselves. Georgia sends their military to put down the rebellion, Russia IMMEDIATELY (aka pre-planned) sends in their own forces to repel the Georgian military then march’s towards the Georgian capitol. The Russian’s attempted to make it look like they were “protecting their brothers” but really it was a land grab. You don’t march on a nations Capitol unless your goal is regime removal / forced surrender. The Russians incited the rebellion to get a reason to attempt annexation of a former-USSR state. They were marching towards the capitol when the US dropped in an airborne unit to defend that same capitol. The Russians halted their advance upon hearing this (the US announced it to the world). They then retreated and called it a day with just “protecting” their new won land. They will establish a puppet form of government in this new region eventually.

    The Russians halted their advance because they didn’t want to start an armed conflict with the USA. The resulting war would have the USA, the UN and most other first world nations turned against them, the Russians are not strong enough to fight everyone else, it would of ended badly for them no matter how you play it out. And thus the USA halted the Georgian conflict without having to fire a single bullet, not through speeches or grand gestures but through demonstrated military capability. The USA has demonstrated many times that it will not hesitate to use military capability to attain its goals / project its power. Where as most / all the European countries have demonstrated restraint and an inability to take swift action. This is why aggressive nations fear the USA and not a European nation. Its also why the USA can act as a “world police” in keeping aggressive nations from making war on each other or trying to annex smaller nations. Its why the Ukraine wants the USA to create a (small) military presence inside their nation by building a radar / anti-missile system. If you have a US military presence in your country nobody will screw with you for fear of the resulting conflict.

    The US’s military strength is the #1 reason its at the top of the food chain. It spends more on its military then the next two nations combined. Its a 1 trillion+ USD budget. Most people make the foolish assumption of confusing military size with military strength, that is a fallacy. Its military capability that determines strength. NK has at least 2 million active soldiers vs SK’s 750k or so or the US’s 550k, but their capability is limited. Same with China, their military is a joke in comparison, its decent enough sized but their equipment is a few generations behind current US tech. China rarely develops anything on its own, it typically steals / copies everyone else and thus is always a generation or two behind the power curve.

    Anyone who hasn’t been on the inside of that system, aka the peanut gallery / armchair generals has no real idea of what military capability is. The US military can at will fight and defeat two super-powers at the same time in a conventional war. Military tech is so radically advanced compared to everyone else, what you see on TV is stuff made 20+ years ago, the new stuff is kept under wraps / classified as all hell.

    As for the t-bill issue, I’ll leave you in your fantasy land. Safe to say there will be destructive sell-off, absolute worst case scenario has the transfer of debt moving from China to another country, along with the revenue that debt represents. Only a small fraction of our national debt is held by foreign countries, and only 24% of that fraction is held by China. A nations debt is not the same as individual debt. And individual owes money to other people, a national debt is money owed to yourself. Deficit spending is basically printing money, we take loans out against our-self for the amount needed. These loans can be purchased by various groups but often are just held within the federal reserve bank. This isn’t a bad thing provided we pay down the loans during times of boom and take out loans during times of bust. The US is required by law to pay the interest off on these loans yearly but rarely pays down the principle. So it just keeps growing and growing and requires higher and higher taxes to support it. Now mind you this is money owed to yourself, so at any time a nation can choose to make this debt disappear / print money (their the same thing). The only downside is this piss’s off any foreign investor as their investment just vanished into thin air. And foreign countries really don’t like you because you basically cheated on the global economy. People are less likely to lend you money, more most importantly the value of your country’s currency goes down, not a problem for local goods but a big issue for foreign made goods. American products made in America would stay the same relative price, but foreign made products would spike in cost, your cost of living would go up.

    Benefit of the USA being on top of the world is that there is literally nothing any other country can possible do about it. If we choose so we’re 100% self sustaining. We choose to import goods because their cheaper then domestically created products (except food) due to ridiculously high cost of labor in the USA. We are our own worst enemy in this situation, we’ve made laws that make the USA non-competitive with foreign nations. Push comes to shove those laws will be removed.

    Summary,
    All that matters is what the bottom line is, nice political speeches are useless feed-good measures. A nations security is in its military strength and the military strength of its allies. Financial security is an illusion, its done to make the big private money makers feel their investments are more secure and thus they get richer. As long as a nations borders are not being under attack, then the sun will rise tomorrow and life will go on.

  • RollingWave

    Prime example of the above is Taiwan. After the boxer revolution the former government of China fled to Taiwan and established it as the seat of government for the defunct China. The pro-communist new Chinese government was too busy cementing its power to both with trying to root out the remnants of the previous regime. In steps the USA to declare it’ll defend Taiwan (still a province of China) if it comes under aggressive attack. Years later Taiwan is an impressive economic power house, especially in the semi-conductor industry. China seriously wants to reabsorb Taiwan, Taiwan refuse’s to give up its sovereignty and purchase’s weapons / military capability from the USA. Its the USA’s defense promise that prevents China form annexing their “lost brethren”, not some misguided Chinese morality. Should the US dissolve their defense promise of Taiwan China would immediately seek to absorb them through whatever means necessarily.

    Dude, some of your details are very off, the boxer rebellion was a rebellion in 1900 by a bunch of crazy (and / or desperate ) peasants that believe their kung fu will make them bullet proof and then they went on to kill every white dude on sight, before being blown to bits and pieces by a multinational army that came in to rescue their civilians.

    The government of Taiwan ended up there in 1949, after the civil war against the communist that turned out very badly.

    The CCP didn’t attack Taiwan for the most part because they had no navy to speak of, when they invaded the Kinmen islands in the 50s they relied almost completely on small fishing boats to land troops, that turned out real well with a island full of tanks.

    The US was vague on Taiwan until the Korean war, which pitted communist China firmly in the hands of the USSR camp, thus giving the US all the incentives in the world to support anyone who’s their enemy.

    The US supported the government in Taiwan as the actual legitimate government of China until 1971, they werne’t protecting Taiwan from China as much as claiming that the government there owns China.

    it was only until 1971 that the US and the UN acknowledge that they are two seperate entity, well more like they no long acknolwedge Taiwan as a entity .

    The US then signed the Taiwan defense act to cover up this obvious vague and absurd situation where they are ally with a country they claim doesn’t exist.

    until the later 90s , Communist China had nothing in terms of naval capacity and even much of an airforce, so it wasn’t as much as the US getting in the way as that they simply can’t pull off a sea invasion. the balance has obviously shifted quite a bit in the recent decade + , but even now China’s amphibious capacity is highly questionable at best.

  • WeikuBoy

    “Prime example of the above is Taiwan. After the boxer revolution the former government of China fled to Taiwan …” @44

    That’s where I stopped reading. Dude, if you’re going to post a loooooong article lecturing us on world military history (I’m guessing), it’s probably best not to make a laughably moronic error in your first sentence. And even then I won’t read any comments that long. Life is too damn short.

    You are correct, though. The KMT govt did flee to Taiwan “after” the Boxer Rebellion. Just as it rained in the Philippines last night “after” it snowed in Korea in 1882. In my house this “Republican truth” from the many lies Bush-Cheneyisms that were true only by torturing their words into the narrowest, most literal definition, but which to any thinking person were fundamentally dishonest. Like, well, “torture”.

  • milton

    They then retreated and called it a day with just “protecting” their new won land. They will establish a puppet form of government in this new region eventually.

    Thanks for proving my point.

    First of all, “will” and “eventually” are not the right words. The Russians did set up a puppet government in South Ossetia. It’s called the Republic of South Ossetia, and it’s currently recognized by three governments. They also set up one in Abkhazia. Note the use of past tense.

    But more importantly, you’ve admitted that the US is powerless to stop a close, vital, and loyal ally from being carved up by another global power, even with a few US boots on the ground. Not only that, but there were US troops inside the country before the Georgians launched their attack on South Ossetia. This small contingent did not deter Russia from retaliating.

    Despite your grandiloquence, your argument is simple: US military strength equals US power. All we have to do is look for cases where the US was powerless to stop something from happening despite the presence of its troops in that country or the existence of security guarantees (don’t even make me bring up Somalia). Georgia, as you’ve admitted, is one such case. Your argument fails.

    QED.

  • milton

    China would immediately seek to absorb them through whatever means necessarily.

    And…

    The US military can at will fight and defeat two super-powers at the same time in a conventional war.

    And…

    As long as a nations borders are not being under attack, then the sun will rise tomorrow and life will go on.

    Whatever you say, Nostradamus. And as long as you’re feeling confident in your clairvoyance, would you mind telling me tomorrow’s lottery numbers?

  • palladin9479

    Sorry I used the incorrect time line about the boxer revolution, was confusing it with the later revolution against the Republic of China (ROC). There are indeed two completely separate incidents, goes to show I should be posting different articles at the same time. My point still stands, the Republic of China was formally made in 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution. It was the ruling group until the 1949 when during a revolution they fled to Taiwan. From 1912 to 1949 there was a protracted / intermittent fighting between the CPC and ROC interrupted due to various other wars / incidents. In 1945 the ROC relocated to Taiwan, though they finally lost the war in 1949 they claimed to have authority of mainland China. It was the Korean war that made the US decide to support Taiwan, the US didn’t want a communist China / Russia to control anymore territory then they already did. The defense of Taiwan isn’t about the US protecting a country but limiting the power of other countries. Similar to what was accomplished in SK and Germany.

    The Georgian conflict is easy to follow. That region has been hostile for years with its freedom fighters being supplied / supported by Russia. The Georgian military initiated the attack to crush the rebellion on 8 August 2008, they claim Russian tanks had moved into the region the day before. On 12 August 2010 a supposed peace agreement was signed, but the fighting continued as Russian troops didn’t pull out of Gori and started advancing to Tbilisi the country’s capitol. It wasn’t till 15 August 2010 when Sec State Rice landed in Tbilisi along with members of the 82nd Airborne and support detachments that the Russian forces stopped. Don’t try to argue the points on this, my brother was one of the ones deployed into Georgia as a peace keeping force when this happened. The Russians stopped because they didn’t want to start another Korea / Vietnam which could of resulted in WWIII. The only US forces assigned to Georgia prior to the Russian aggression were SF trainers and they were ordered not to get involved for the same reasons stated above.

    But more importantly, you’ve admitted that the US is powerless to stop a close, vital, and loyal ally from being carved up by another global power, even with a few US boots on the ground.

    This is fallacious as the US expressed told its trainers not to get involved. The objective wasn’t to prevent Russian aggression, there was no US base / forces present. In all honestly the US didn’t believe Russia would actually try to annex another democratic nation this way. If the USA would of had a reasonable sized force stationed there with the express mission of “defend this place”, there would of been no Russian aggression into the area. There is no doubt in anyone’s (anyone important that is) mind that if the US had anticipated Russia deciding to become aggressive and prepared a regional defense force, then South Ossetia would still be part of Georgia, at least officially. The Russians caught the entire world completely by surprise when they invaded and sent serious military firepower in. But in doing so they tipped they hand, everyone else is now wary that they’ll do the same in other countries. They won’t be able to pull that stunt again.

    Everything I’m saying is how countries think of things, not armchair generals sitting at home. Military power ~IS~ a nations ability to project its power. If a nations military is weak, then its power projection is just as weak. Nations / Governments and world power is based on this concept. The cold war never really ended, it just was put on a pause as the world order was rearranged.

  • palladin9479

    Took me some digging but I found the details behind the US forces being deployed to Georgia during this conflict. They were deployed as “humanitarian assistance” and were deployed a few days prior to Sec State rice showing up.
    This is what then President Bush said about the US forces deployment,

    “We expect Russia to meet its commitment to cease all military activities in Georgia, and we expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country.”

    Yeah you don’t deploy humanitarian “aid” with saying that, although Pentagon officials stated multiple times that it was not a force deployment. Basically the US sent the message that if Russia didn’t back the fck off they would get involved on a military level. Russia backed the fck off shortly afterward. And moved its forces back to its already controlled areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia / USA wanted Russia to just leave altogether, Russia wanted everyone else (besides it) to leave. The compromise was Russia “protected” (aka controlled) Ossetia / Abkhazia and the UN (really the USA) would watch over the rest. Since the renegade regions were already pro-Russia and wanted to defect not much you can really do about them. Its become another divided nation between similar to NK / SK, I foresee this becoming a very hot button issue in a decade or so.

  • RollingWave

    Allocated? the ROC government only allocated to Taiwan in 49, they got Taiwan back from Japan as part of the end of WW2.

    Also, almost all parties involved described what happened in 45-49 as a civil war and not a revolution. Though Mao made things more complicated by changing the name of the state after 49.

    Also, the Communist didn’t start until the late 20s, then again, the ROC government was in constant civil war from it’s founding until 49 anyway, though for a larger part it was warlords against each other and then with the KMT and CCP thrown into the mix.

  • milton

    Your theory explains some phenomenon that we witness in international relations, but it fails to explain all, and thus it’s not a robust theory. Even if your theory intuitively makes sense.

    If it were the case that power were only determined by military force alone, then how does this explain Russia’s decision to invade Georgia in the first place? It can’t. Because if what you say is true, then Russia—being militarily inferior to the United States—would not have gotten involved in the war in the first place, fearing US retaliation. How can your military-only theory explain the recent forays Pakistan and China have made in cooperative nuclear development, despite US forces for the most part operating with impunity on Pakistani territory? Again, if your theory were correct, China and Pakistan would probably refrain from this type of activity—both being weaker than the US. What about the case of the Nabucco pipeline? Why is Russia able to buy up all of Azerbaijani and Turkmen natural gas supplies and force Eastern European states to abandon the Nabucco project in favor of Gazprom’s South Stream and Nord Stream pipelines, despite the US throwing heavy weight behind Nabucco? Why did the US bow to Russian and Chinese demands in the UN when “condemning” North Korea? These results are all opposite of what you would predict.

    I’m not denying that military power is important in IR, because I concede that it is very important. I don’t dispute your claims that the US presence in Germany, SK, or Japan wards off Russian and Chinese expansionism. But military power alone can’t explain everything we see. A more encompassing theory will take into account not only military power, but also economic and trade links and the norms and traditions of the international environment.